MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jacob Wetterling’s best friend Aaron Larson says his gut tells him the new person of interest in the case could very well be the masked man who told him to run the night Jacob was kidnapped.
“It gives you chills,” he said. “I will say it’s a feeling I hadn’t had from looking at any pictures of other people.”
Aaron Larson lives in southwest Minnesota now with two children of his own. He says investigators have never talked to him about Danny Heinrich.
Larson’s small voice told the story to reporters, back in 1989.
“He grabbed Jacob and told us to go into the woods or he’d shoot,” he said in a TV interview after the abduction.
Now, 26 years later, he’s still reliving the night he says shaped who he is as a person.
“Wednesday was a tough night. Tough conversation,” he said.
Patty and Jerry Wetterling called Aaron to tell him Danny Heinrich’s arrest would be announced the next day.
“My heart was racing a thousand bets a minute,” Larson said.
And when Larson saw Heinrich’s photos, he said he felt an immediate reaction.
“I will say it’s a feeling I hadn’t had from looking at any pictures of other people,” he said.
Aaron Larson is now 37 — the same age Jacob Wetterling would be. In a home video from the Wetterlings, Jacob describes Larson as his “best friend.”
They remained best friends, right up until the night Jacob disapppeared. The rest we know well: The boys rode their bikes home after renting a movie. A masked man with a gun ordered them into a ditch.
But there was a detail not discussed: Aaron was sexually assaulted by that man — grabbed in the groin area before being told to leave. The incident is similar to what happened in a string of attacks in the Paynesville area that happened in the two years prior.
Aaron says not a day goes by he doesn’t think about Jacob.
“You live with that guilt, of, ‘I’m here, and how come Jacob’s not here?'” he said.
He’s hopeful the latest break will lead to some kind of closure.
“You never want to give up,” Larson said. “You want to find out where he is.”
Larson also says he’s waiting to hear Danny Heinrich’s voice. He describes the voice of the man who kidnapped Jacob as very deep, like the man had a cold. He said he thinks it’s something he’ll remember if he hears it again.